The Wreck Of The Shot Down Turkish Plane Sighted And The Bodies Of The Pilots Recovered

Today Turkish general Staff published photos from the search and rescue salvage operations Turkish Navy is conducting off Syrian coast.

As reported earlier,  the research vessel, E/V Nautilus was able to send her ROVs and broadcast live images from the wreck of the Turkish reconnaissance airplane RF-4ETM. This broadcast also confirmed what we have been  fearining: The two pilots have died and their bodes were recovered from the bosom of the sea.

This is a short summary of the all naval operations explained by Turkish General Staff:

  • Between 22 and 26 June 2012, 1 frigate, 1 fact attack craft, 1 patrol boat, 2 Coast Guard vessels, 1 plane and four helicopters searched a  70×23 miles area. During this time about 30 floating items belonging to the plane have been found.
  • Between 26 June and 2 July 2012 the survey ship of Turkish Navy A-599 TCG Çeşme searched for the wreckage of the airplane with her side scan sonar at an average depth of 1230 meters. during this operation TCG Çeşme identified 8 large pieces.
  • Between 3 and 4 July, the research vessels E/V Nautilus broadcasted images for the 8 large pieces identified by TCG Çeşme before and found the bodies of the crew.
  • TCG İnebolu an ocean capable tug with a capacity from salvaging from 3000 meters depth recovered the bodies of the pilots and started to collect pieces from the wreckage of the aircraft.
  • TCG İnebolu and E/V Nautilus are continuing with the salvaging.

Here some photos published by Turkish General Staff:

For more photos and for the location information of the wreck click here.


E/V Nautilus Starts To Search For The Shot Down Turkish Plane

The last recorded position of E/V Nautilus and the location where the Turkish fighter plane crashed.

This was rumored repeatedly last week but now it is official. E/V Nautilus is helping Turkish Navy to locate and inspect the wreckage of RF-4ETM, shoot down by Syria.

The ship was in Istanbul for the preparations of her 2012 expedition to explore the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and Cyprus.

She has departure from Istanbul on 29th June 2012 . Currently she is about to arrive at the crash location and start her mission. What makes this62 meters long  research vessel special and unique is the state-of-the-art exploration and telepresence technology has has on board.  The primary remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on board, named Hercules and Argus, are used to view the seafloor with high definition video, take environmental measurements and collect geological and biological samples. The two secondary exploration tools, the towfish named Diana and Echo, are used to utilize side-scan and subbottom sonar technology to explore the seafloor and seek out compelling targets for closer investigation and study.  Once her side-scan sonars have precisely located the wreck of the plane the ROV will allow us to see the plane and help us to understand how it was hoot down and most importantly if the pilots are still in the wreckage or not.

According to news there will be 4 Turkish naval officers on board during the mission and six warships plus three helicopters will support and protect the E/V Nautilus.

As the wreckage is inside the Syrian territorial waters and as the most of the E/V Nautilus‘ crew most notably Dr. Robert Ballard is from USA, I guess that some kind of a deal must have been struck between Turkey, Syria and USA for this mission.

Here is a video showing E/V Nautilus off the coast of Bodrum on Sunday morning, picking up some crew members transferred by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel. The frigate TCG Gelibolu and the fact attack craft  TCG Karayel can also be seen.

NATO Says The Piracy In Gulf Of Aden Is At The Lowest Level Since 2009

Before SNMG-2 returned to the Mediterranean the command of the Operation Ocean Shield, NATO’s counter piracy mission was handed over to the SNMG-1. The handover ceremony was done in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. This is a surprise as I did not know that Saudi Arabia supported the NATO operations, even covertly.

Commodore Ben Bekkering (Royal Netherlands Navy), assumed command of Operation Ocean Shield, NATO‟s counter piracy mission from Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi Tosun (Turkish Navy) in the port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

As incoming Commander, Commodore Ben Bekkering stressed the need to remain vigilant. “On Admiral Tosun‟s six-month watch, the success rate of pirates has seen a sharp decline. Pirates find it increasingly difficult to deploy from the coast and hunt at sea. But the many incidents over the last few months, including attacks and hijackings, make it absolutely clear that we can’t let our guard down. I see it as my absolute task to ensure the trend continues and engage with all partners in the region to maximize our combined effect.”

Onboard his flagship Rear Admiral Tosun summarized his six months in command, “Ocean Shield has been a highly satisfying and demanding deployment for me. During my tenure, the main success has been the significant reduction in successful piracy actions which are now at their lowest level since 2009. The high level of coordination established between the counter piracy actors has undoubtedly played a considerable part in contributing to the decline in piracy. I believe that powerful and resolute units of NATO‟s Counter Piracy Task Force, under the command of Commodore Bekkering will continue to fight against piracy with the same enthusiasm during the next six-month period”

Commodore Ben Bekkering’s flagship is F-805 HNLMS Evertsen. And as of 15th June 2012, Turkey will handover the command of SNMG-2 to Germany.

I have no statistics about the recent piracy activity in the region but if the piracy actions are now at their lowest level since 2009 as claimed by the admirals then does this means there is a light at the end of the tunnel or this just meager times of the pirates?


SNMG2 Operational Handover In Turkey

Today, Turkish Navy will pass the command of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 to German Navy for a period of one year.

Turkey took the command of SNMG -2 last year in Aksaz Naval Base in Marmaris Turkey. For the first half of the tenure, during the task forces’ Mediterranean, Black Sea, Baltic and North Sea deployments F-245 TCG Oruçreis acted as the flagship. She was replace in December 2011 by the current flagship F-491 TCG Giresun as the task force proceeded to the Gulf of Aden of the Operation Ocean Shield, NATO‟s counter piracy mission.

SNMG2, under command of Rear Admiral Tosun will just have completed deployment on NATO counter piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and the group is reassembling to start a new work-up period. During this period several exercises will be conducted and visits will be made in support of the Mediterranean Dialogue and Partnership for Peace programmes. SNMG2 will be deployed for Operation Active Endeavour and again for Operation Ocean Shield.

Thank you Admiral for your efforts in making the seas safer for all of us.

Why Turkey Rejected UK’s Global Combat Ship

Well, marketing is not selling. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the contractor BAE paid a high price to learn this elementary lesson in selling.

Actually they did a good marketing campaign to gain favor among Turkish decision makers. BAE attended every important defence related exhibition in 2011. During these events the representatives of BAE tried to spread the scope of the project as much as possible and they took time to talk to bloggers like yours truly in order to make their message heard.

The UK government invited the representatives of large Turkish companies and high ranking defence bureaucrats to UK to discuss potential business opportunities.

When the Turkish president was visiting UK, he was given a tour on board of the new RN Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless to show the results of British shipbuilding industry.

Yet all these – and probably other – efforts failed to convince Turkey to join the Type 26 / Global Combat Ship project. Why?

I think, the UK side failed to deliver the positive change Turkey would gain by joining this project in clear and precise terms.

In this case the Type 26 / GSC project was already in an advanced stage when Turkey was asked to join. As it was late to join, the Turkish participation would have increased the cost. Or Turkey would have had to review its requirements in accordance existing plans prepared by BAE for the British Navy. But the requirements and the traditions of Turkish Navy is very different from the requirements and the traditions of the RN so that a compromise is not feasible.

In sales, every successful sales happens because the buyer comes to believe the product or service will make a positive impact. And the buyer needs to see that the value of the product or service he wishes to buy outweighs its price. It seems that the Brits missed this single important point of a successful sales effort.

Aerial Reconnaissance

This is a photo of F-512 TCG Büyükada the second ship of Milgem Class, taken from an airplane window.

F-512 TCG Büyükada

She was launched on 27th September 2012. Since then she is being fitted in Istanbul Naval Shipyard. The construction seems to be focused on the forecastle and on the flight deck. There is  a scaffolding around the mast. Judging the state of her construction she might be ready for commissioning in 2013.

The four ships of Dost class together

In this photo all four Dost class large search and rescue ships being constructed for the Turkish Coast Guard can be seen at the RMK Shipyard. SG-701 TCSG Dost, and SG-702 TCG Güven were launched in 2010 and SG-703 TCSG Umut was launched in 2011.  SG-704 TCG Yaşam is still on the slipyard.

The contract for the construction of 4 ships at RMK Marine Shipyard was signed on 16 January 2007. The keel of the first ship was laid on 3 Mayıs 2008. The design of the these ships are based on the Sirio class vessels produced by Italian Fincantieri.  According to original news reports from 2008 – 2010 era, TCSG Dost was supposed to be handed over to Turkish Coast Guard in 2011 and the other two ships were scheduled for delivery in this year.

SNMCMG-2 Conducted Exercise With Italian Navy

ESPS M-31 Segura and M-268 TCG Akçakoca maneuvering during ITA MINEX 2012. Official NATO photo.

According to NATO, the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) ended its participation in Italian Minex 12, an annual exercise directed by the Italian Navy MCM Forces Command

The Exercise Started on 14th May and ended on 28th May, involved 14 naval units from Italy and SNMCMG2 as well as bomb-disposal specialists from Italy and France. The NATO Underwater Research Centre (NURC) also participated with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) capable of carrying out underwater inspections in support of MCM operations.

The Group is maintained at high-readiness and can deploy as required by the Alliance even at strategic distance. It is made up of ships from various Allied nations which train and operate together throughout the year and participate in numerous exercises conducted by the Alliance, as a mine-countermeasure force. The primary task is to defend sea routes from the underwater mine threat. As a secondary task the group collects important data on the marine environment and sea bottom, which contributes to scientific research.

Turkish Warships Visit Novorossiysk During Training Cruise

Two ships of Turkish Navy A-1600 TCG Iskenderun and A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa, have finished their port visit to Novorossiysk, Russia.

The ships are on an open sea training cruises for the freshman of the Naval Petty Officer Training School, to prepare the future mariners for their duties. The cruise will end on 3rd June 2012.

According to

Turkish Navy task unit consisting of training ships Iskenderun and Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa called at Russian port Novorossiysk paying formal visit. About 500 naval cadets are on board the Turkish ships.

Purpose of the visit is strengthening of military cooperation between the two countries and exchange of naval training experience.

The task unit is headed by Capt Serdar Gundoglu. Solemn meeting ceremony took place at Novorossiysk seaport. Ladies dressed in Russian national costumes presented traditional bread and salt to the foreign guests.

Later on, a regular moorage security meeting was held on board Turkish ship Iskenderun. The meeting was attended by representatives of local police, harbor security service, and Novorossiysk Naval Base command.

Today the guests paid courtesy visits to Novorossiysk Mayor Vladimir Sinyagovsky and Novorossiysk Naval Base Commander (senior naval officer) Capt 1 Rank Sergei Pinchuk, and visited museum cruiser Mikhail Kutuzov.

When staying in Novorossiysk, Turkish naval cadets will attend the wreath-laying ceremony at the Square of Heroes and visit navigation training center of Novorossiysk State Maritime Academy. It is also planned to hold sport competitions in soccer, volleyball and basketball between Russian and Turkish mariners.

BAE Lost The Turkish Bid, Before The Acquisition Process Started

The Turkish daily, Hürriyet Daily News, published an article by Mr. Özgür Ekşi, reporting that the Turkish Defense Ministry sent a letter informing their British counterparts, last month saying that Turkey was “no longer interested” in BAE Systems’ offer. Thus the hopes of BAE to take part in the next big Turkish naval acquisition project TF-2000 are terminated.

TF-2000 air defence warship, is one of the important naval future naval projects for Turkish Navy and for Turkish naval shipbuilding industry. Turkish Navy uses the Gabya class frigates for area air defence missions as they have the SM-1 anti-air missile. But both the missiles and the ships are getting past their prime ages, though Turkish Navy invests heavily in modernising the Gabya class ships with MK-41 VLS, ESSM missiles, Smart s 3D radar and with modern CIC and combat management software.

According to the long termed defence acquisition plans of Turkish Navy, it is envisaged that around  year 2020,  Turkey will need dedicated air defence warships that will defeat the modern aerial threats and provide cover for friendly ships and conduct support functions such as command and control, reconnaissance, early warning, electronic warfare.

The British defence giant BAE Systems, started in marketing their Type-26/GCS platform as a candidate for the TF-2000 programme. The British Goverment backed up BAE by designated Turkey as a strategic partner. In 2010, Prime Ministers Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and David Cameron signed a new Turkey/United Kingdom Strategic Partnership in Ankara. During his visit to UK, the President Abdullah Gül even visited HMS Dauntless.

So BAE was considered one of the main players in TF-2000 project along with Navantia as shipyard and Lockheed Martin as sensor and combat management system supplier. Till today.

U.S. defense industry giant Lockheed Martin has been left as the only bidder in the $3 billion project for the joint manufacture of six frigates for the Turkish navy after Ankara rejected the remaining contender BAE Systems’ proposal.

The project, however, may still not be awarded to Lockheed Martin if an agreement cannot be reached on the technical aspects of missile integration. Such an eventuality would cause the project to be shelved and then reshaped.

The long-delayed project envisions the TF-2000 frigate as a regional anti-air warfare vessel that would respond to aerial threats and also provide support functions such as command control, communication, reconnaissance and early warning. It would be bigger, heavier and more efficient in terms of war capacity than the vessels the navy has today.

The Defense Ministry last month sent a letter informing their British counterparts that Turkey was “no longer interested” in BAE Systems’ offer, an official familiar with the tender told the Hürriyet Daily News.

BAE is currently working on a new type of frigate, Type 26, which is internationally known as the Global Combat Ship (GCS). “BAE has already started the project. It was late to join. Our needs would have increased the cost. Or we would have had to review our requirements in accordance with the British Navy, but our requirements are different. BAE had also asked for a ‘license fee.’ The partnership offer would have become a model in which Turkey was financing BAE’s project,” the source told the Daily News.

But I think it is also to early for LM to pop-up champagne and to start partying.

Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretary of Defense Industries (SSM), has come close to formally selecting Lockheed Martin, but it needs to hear the Turkish Navy’s decision on the choice of missile systems, which is the most critical part of the project. The ship will be designed according to the missile systems, because of their enormous weight.

Selecting the Lockheed SM2 missile system would simplify everything, as it is not heavy. The SM3 system would mean more negotiations on many aspects. It has a wider range, which means that the system would overlap with some of the Air Forces’ air defense duty. Missile integration is another subject to be solved.

Lockheed uses AN/SPY1 radar, while Turkish company Aselsan has started working on a smaller system called Multifunctional Phased Array Radar project (ÇAFRAD). Lockheed Martin has a Ship Integrated War Administration System called Aegis, which includes the AN/SPY1 radar, but Turkish Havelsan has already manufactured a smaller version called Genesis. Turkey wants ÇAFRAD to be inserted into AN/SPY1, Genesis to replace Aegis, and this combination to be integrated with the SM3 system.

If the two sides fail to resolve the missile integration question, then a second option will be considered. Turkey has successfully manufactured a corvette under the so-called Milgem project.

Milgem would be re-designed to manufacture a light frigate for air defense warfare and would be named TF100. “We have to develop something based on Milgem or we will waste all our know-how,” an industry source said.

I must add the following point for clarity: The formal acquisition process for TF-2000 has not started yet. According to the web site of  Undersecretary of Defense Industries ” The feasibility studies for the TF-2000 project are completed. The model of the project will be created after the examination of feasibility studies”.  The official start of the TF-2000 project  is at least a couple of years even may be one decade away, dependimg on the avaliable budget.

Turkey said “Thanks, but no thanks” to BAE becuase of obvious and in my personal view from right reasons. But creating a new ship from scratch with a mixture of divers and sophisticated US and Turkish sensors, management software and weapons is a daunting task for every project manager.

For further reading:
The Battle For The TF-2000 Project Has Started
BAE Systems, Global Combat Ship And Turkey (Part 1)
My Impressions From 4.Naval Systems Seminar
IDEF’11 Update Part 2: Companies
IDEF’11 Update Part 1: Ongoing Naval Projects
UK – Turkey: Naval Industry Inward Mission (Part 2)

Phoenix Express 2012 and Beyaz Fırtına 2012 Naval Exercises

According to a statement made on the Official Turkish Navy Web page, Turkey is participating to the Phoenix Express exercise.

Phoenix Express 2012, a multi-national at-sea maritime exercise designed to help increase maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea and to improve cooperation among participating nations of Algeria, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

Turkey is participation in PE12 with Gabya class frigate F-493 TCG Gelibolu and a naval infantry detachment.

On the other hand there has been no official statement either From Turkish General Staff or Turkish Naval Forces about the Turkish naval exercise Beyaz Fırtına 2012. Thus the below list of participating ships is gathered from various local and national news papers, web portals and is not complete. There is also no concrete information about the duration of the exercise.

F-511 TCG Heybeliada Corvette
F-494 TCG Gökçeada Frigate
F-504 TCG Bartın Corvette
P-335 TCG İmbat Fast Attack Craft
P-334 TCG Meltem Fast Attack Craft
P-321 TCG Denizkuşu Fast Attack Craft
P-327 TCG Albatros Fast Attack Craft
P-323 TCG Şahin Fast Attack Craft
P-347 TCG Fırtına Fast Attack Craft
A-571 TCG Albay Hakkı Burak Tanker
F-496 TCG Gökova Frigate
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